posted December 13, 2010

Memoir by Heather Sellers Named Michigan Notable Book

The memoir "You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know: A True Story of Family, Face Blindness, and Forgiveness" by Dr. Heather Sellers of the Hope College English faculty has been named a 2011 Michigan Notable Book by the Library of Michigan.

This year's selections were announced on Monday, Dec. 13.

As the announcement release explains, each year, the Michigan Notable Books program, which began in 1991, features 20 books published in the previous calendar year that are about, or set in, Michigan or the Great Lakes region, or are written by a native or resident of Michigan.  Selections include nonfiction and fiction books that appeal to a variety of audiences and cover a range of topics and issues close to the hearts of Michigan residents.

Published in October by Riverhead Books, Sellers's memoir has been highlighted in publications ranging from the "New York Times," to "Psychology Today," "Elle" and "People."  Since the book's release, she has been featured on NPR's "All Things Considered," ABC's "Good Morning America" and "Rachel Ray," among others.

Sellers, who has taught at Hope since 1995, has a highly unusual neurological condition known as face blindness, or prosopagnosia.  The disorder, which is believed to affect about two percent of the population to some degree, prevents the brain from interpreting the information that it receives from the eyes, with the effect specific to the section or process that deals with face recognition.  The eyes function correctly, but the brain can't store any image of the human face.

In the memoir, she describes her childhood in Florida, and how the strange circumstances of that upbringing made it impossible for anyone to realize she had the bizarre, troubling condition.  She was working on a memoir about her family when she discovered she had the condition after coming across the term "face recognition" in an article about five years ago.  She eventually connected with the Prosopagnosia Research Center at HarvardUniversity, where researchers confirmed that she had a severe degree of face blindness.

The book is about her experiences coming to terms with the disorder and explores how the apparent handicap turned out to be a remarkable gift that allowed her to "see" people as they truly were and gave her unexpected insights into the nature of family, forgiveness and love.

Copies of "You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know: A True Story of Family, Face Blindness, and Forgiveness" are available through the college's Hope-Geneva Bookstore as well as through other area book sellers and online.

The other 19 books named 2011 Michigan Notable Books are:  "Apparition and Late Fiction: A Novella and Stories," by Thomas Lynch; "Blues in Black and White:  The Landmark Ann Arbor Blues Festivals," by Michael Erlewine, Stanley Livingstone (photographer) and Tom Erlewine; "Chrysler's Turbine Car:  The Rise and Fall of Detroit's Coolest Creation," by Steve Lehto; "Detroit Disassembled," by Andrew Moore; "The Detroit Electric Scheme:  A Mystery," by D.E. Johnson; "Eden Springs: A Novella," by Laura Kasischke; "Freshwater Boys:  Stories," by Adam Schuitema; "The Hanging Tree:  A Starvation Lake Mystery," by Bryan Gruley; "Lord of Misrule," by Jaimy Gordon; "A Michigan Polar Bear Confronts the Bolsheviks: A War Memoir," by Godfrey J. Anderson, edited by Gordon Olson; "Mine Towns: Buildings for Workers in Michigan's Copper Country," by Alison K. Hoagland; "Picturing Hemingway's Michigan," by Michael R. Federspiel; "Reimagining Detroit: Opportunities for Redefining an American City," by John Gallagher; "Sawdusted: Notes from a Post-boom Mill," by Raymond Goodwin; "Sixty to Zero: An Inside Look at the Collapse of General Motors and the Detroit Auto Industry," by Alex Taylor III; "The Sweetness of Freedom: Stories of Immigrants," by Stephen Ostrander and Martha Bloomfield; "To Account for Murder," by William C. Whitbeck; "Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking Out the Jams," edited by M.L. Liebler; and "Wounded Warrior:  The Rise and Fall of Michigan Governor John Swainson," by Lawrence M. Glazer.  More information about the program, including additional information about each of the books recognized, is available online at www.michigan.gov/notablebooks.